Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!: How much gov’t pork is on that pizza?  »


As California’s laying hen protection law comes closer to taking effect this January, states wary of having to improve animal welfare in their own factory farms are suing the Golden State. You can watch a new interview of mine on the topic on CNN Headline News. As well, HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell has a great column about cruelty to farm animals.

In light of the California drought, my coworker Kristie Middleton has a great op-ed this week on the most delicious way to save water. (Hint: it involves eating less meat). Kristie’s solution may save water, but what about saving wildlife from extinction? The Center for Biological Diversity has a new campaign about the best way to prevent wildlife extinctions. (Hint: it also involves eating less meat.)

Ever wonder how much pork—government pork, that is—is on a typical pizza? My new piece inReason offers a deep dish of sobering realities about the meat and dairy industries’ clamor for socialism.

Finally, as the battles over gestation crates for pigs continue, Connecticut is the latest state to consider legislation on the topic.

Paul Shapiro
Vice President, Farm Animal Protection
The Humane Society of the United States
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P.S. Video of the week: 55 million viewers can’t be wrong…kitten convo!


Update: HSUS is totally going to win that National Pork Producers Council lawsuit  »

imageRemember in September, when we talked about that lawsuit that HSUS co-filed with a pig farmer against the National Pork Producers Council? It focused on a “creative” use of fees paid by pig farmers to ostensibly pay for the licensing rights to “The Other White Meat,” but which actually disappeared in a back-room deal. HSUS alleged that “NPPC charged pork producers twice: once to make The Other White Meat successful, and again to pay for the value of that success.”

Park Wilde of U.S. Food Policy updated us on the lawsuit this week, and it is not looking good for those sneaky NPPC jerks. Per some newly unredacted documents pertaining to the sale of the slogan—which, remember, has been funded by mandatory fees paid by pig farmers through the pork checkoff program—there was never any other buyer for “The Other White Meat” but the NPCC, and moreover, they knew that no one else would ever want it. It wasn’t worth the $36 million that with interest over 20 years amounts to $60 million paid by the pig farmers (who, again, didn’t agree to this deal, didn’t want this deal, didn’t have any involvement in this deal besides funding it), and now everyone knows it.

It appears that pork checkoff program monies have been used for almost entirely shady purposes. What got HSUS interested in them was their suspected illegal use for lobbying against animal welfare initiatives that HSUS has been pushing for years. This revelation about “The Other White Meat” is only one gotcha, but it’s a big, obvious one. The dirtiest corporate secrets are always in the accounting, right? Tsk tsk, NPPC.

Take a look at the unredacted document at U.S. Food Policy. I can’t wait to see how those 100 percent anti-animal-welfare jerks at NPPC are going to respond. I hope it’s more whining and accusations of bullying!

[Photo by Giang Hồ Thị Hoàng via Flickr]


Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »


It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!

Want to see the future of food? BusinessWeek had a great feature yesterday on the amazing Hampton Creek Foods.

Mom-to-be Hollywood star Kristen Bell cares about other moms-to-be, including pregnant pigs! That’s why she sent a letter this week to the National Pork Producers Council asking that they stop supporting gestation crate confinement. And just this past week alone, MarriottGeneral MillsAu Bon Pain, and IHOP/Appleby’s all announced that they’re shifting their pork supply chains away from gestation crate confinement.

In response to the introduction of an anti-whistleblower bill that was just introduced in Wyoming, the opinion page editor of the Casper Star-Tribune blasted the sponsor, saying the “shameful bill is a new low for Wyoming.”

Video of the week: If you think mice can’t play fetch, basketball, or track and field, this stunning video is for you.


It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

It’s Paul Shapiro's weekly dose of all things animals! Yes!

Pork Magazine editorialized this week about what a “tough year” HSUS created in the US with its “laser focus on pork production.” Pork’s editor concludes: “Now, HSUS won’t go away; in fact it has gained strength. It has the formula down and will replicate its strategies within the pork sector as well as across the agriculture sector.”

Related: Metz Culinary Management is the latest major pork buyer to demand that its pork suppliers end their use of gestation crates…

On the other side of the world, Forbes has a sobering yet hopeful look at the challenges the animal movement faces in China and how Humane Society International is working to move the ball forward there. This interview is really worth the read.

Finally, check out this interesting new article on how the rise in demand for vegetarian food is largely coming from meat-eaters who are reducing the number of animals they’re eating.

Six years ago this week, Arizona voters made their state the first in the US to ban veal crates, and second to ban gestation crates. And four years ago this week, Californians banned both of those practices, as well as cramped cages for laying hens. Congratulations and happy anniversary to the thousands of awesome animal advocates who labored so tirelessly on those campaigns!

Video of the week: Ever feel like someone else is freeloading off your hard work? This cat may feel the same!


Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

Paul Shapiro is back for his weekly dose of all the animal news that’s fit to print! Take it away, Paul!

Seriously, not a joke: Here’s a pork industry column this week on why they’re opposing HSUS’s effort to make it a felony in North Dakota to set dogs, cats, and horses on fire. (It’s currently a felony in 48 other states.)

You already know that the factory farming industry vigorously attacks HSUS daily. But today there’s an important new exposé by Bloomberg on one of the industry’s top PR hit men, who often leads the attack against HSUS. Check it out.

I doubt he’s pleased with the piece, and I also doubt that he’s pleased with the fact that Carnival Cruises is the latest major pork buyer to announce it will eliminate gestation crate pork from its supply chain.

Finally. I also doubt he was too pleased to read the recent LA Times story on how demand for meat is declining globally. Or the big AP story yesterday on how meat-free Thanksgivings are gaining in popularity…

Video of the week:  I’m usually against animal fighting, but this may be okay…


It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

Paul Shapiro is back with all the animal news you need. Let’s go:

Ever wonder what the meat industry’s tired of? Well, Pork Magazine’s editor wrote this week, “I am getting tired of the constant barrage of announcements driven by the Humane Society of the United States against the U.S. pork sector, and I know you are too.”

One thing you may not be tired of is good news like this: industry publication Feedstuffs has a story this week about a formerly pro-gestation crate animal scientist who now concludes that a transition away from the crates will indeed work, and that producers seem to be getting dragged “kicking and screaming into another inevitable change.”

Other good news: HSUS is proud to be named this year as VegNews magazine’s “Nonprofit of the Year!”

A new undercover investigation by Mercy For Animals documented egregious cruelty at a large dairy producer.

Finally, an interesting story about how more and more black men are getting into veganism. One guy in particular is a pretty good example, I’d say!

Video of the week: Rescued ducks hit water for the first time! [Ed.: UGH THIS IS TOO AWESOME]


Pork lawsuit extravaganza! HSUS and a pig farmer sue pork lobbyists and the government!  »

Not pictured: interested parties in layer-hen living conditions legislation

Big Pork is having a hell of a week.

On Monday, the Humane Society, along with pig farmer (“pork producer”) Harvey Dillenburg, filed a lawsuit against the NPCC because “the National Pork Board ‘struck an unlawful backroom deal’ with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in purchasing the marketing message “Pork: The Other White Meat” from NPPC” in 2001.

Essentially, a case of massive, deliberate money mismanagement and lack of government oversight. All pig farmers have to give some of their profits to the NPPC, which has been, this lawsuit alleges, illegally taking money from the NPB and double-charging its funders/creators of the product it’s selling. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is named as a co-defendant because the government is supposed to monitor how the NPB spends its money.

Why is HSUS involved? According to a press release, because of

… glaring legal violations, conflicts of interest, and an exorbitantly over-inflated $60 million price tag associated with the deal. Much of the extraordinarily inflated value of the slogan resulted from 20 years of promotional campaigns funded entirely with pork producers’ own checkoff funds: roughly half a billion dollars. In essence, NPPC charged pork producers twice: once to make The Other White Meat successful, and again to pay for the value of that success.

Park Wilde of U.S. Food Policy blog explains further: HSUS is trying to protect its recent agreement with egg producers over “ethically acceptable” cage sizes for layer hens.

Although the leading trade association for egg producers is now working with HSUS to get this balanced policy approved by Congress, the agreement faces implacable opposition from the NPPC. The egg agreement causes no harm to pork producers, but the NPPC is worried that the precedent of a successful egg agreement will generate unrealistic hopes for similar good-faith negotiations about gestation crates for pork.  It is not surprising that HSUS has been looking into how the federal government’s pork board—which is not supposed to support lobbying—helps fund the NPPC’s efforts to spoil the egg agreement.

See why you, animal-rights enthusiast, should care about this? The NPPC is a bunch of money-grubbing, anti-agriculture-reform jerks who are trying to scuttle HSUS’s effort to make life less shitty for farm animals, outside of their own species jurisdiction. The NPPC is fighting egg production reforms because it sees similar reforms in its future, and it fears them. HSUS alleges that NPPC can’t legally use its funds to fight this battle, pig farmers agree that this is a terrible use of their money, and so we have this lawsuit.

Wilde calls the suit “well written, with astonishing details,” so maybe you want to take a look [pdf]. We’re not surprised that lobbying entities are misusing funds, but it’s especially gross when they misuse funds to fight animal welfare reform.

Adorably, NPPC CEO Neil Dierks responded to the lawsuit by calling HSUS a bully. It’s cute when the people in power feel threatened and immediately appropriate the language of the oppressed. Meat industry supporters are such crybabies.

[Photo by Valerie via Flickr]



It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! WOOHOO!

Good news: A judge has rejected the foie gras industry’s attempt to put a hold on California’s new law banning the force-feeding of ducks (and selling products from force-fed ducks).

More good news: North America’s largest foodservice distributor, Sysco, is the latest food giant to come out against gestation crate confinement of pigs.

In response to the gestation crate debate, the National Pork Producers Council’s communications director was seriously quoted in the National Journal this week saying: “So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets…I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.” (No, this isn’t a quote from 30 years ago—it’s July 24, 2012. Seriously. Yes, I know.)

Amazingly, USDA put out a newsletter this week including a mention of the health and environmental benefits of Meatless Monday. This of course drew immediate outrage from the meat industry and its allies in Congress (Rep. Steve King from Iowa tweeted that it was “heresy”), prompting USDA to immediately remove the newsletter and announce that it wasn’t properly vetted. Lots of coverage on this, though the national AP story put it best when it aptly concluded, “The USDA often promotes the beef industry by encouraging Americans to eat meat.” (NPR and NY Times had good coverage, too.) 

Video of the week: Best way to prevent dog shedding… (Or, if you want to upset Rep. King, feel free to share HSUS’s fun Meatless Monday video online today!)


Totally nasty: Eating pork could give you brain tapeworms!  »

This is your brain on pork! Specifically, this is “A human brain overrun with cysts from Taenia solium, a tapeworm that normally inhabits the muscles of pigs.” How do pig-muscle parasites get into human brains? Carl Zimmer at Discover breaks it down: When humans eat undercooked meat from a pig that was infected with the tapeworms, those  tapeworm eggs will hatch in a human’s body, and the bloodstream will whisk the new little tapeworms around and up into the brain, where they thrive, forming cysts and giving the human a grody disease called neurocysticercosis.

Because the symptoms of neurocysticercosis are similar to lots of other diseases—it can cause epilepsy, for one thing—doctors like Theodore Nash of the National Institutes of Health say they can only estimate how many people are suffering from brain tapeworms. Dr. Nash tells Discover that he estimates between 1,500 and 2,000 people in the U.S. have them. And even grosser: “Nash and colleagues published a review of the scientific literature and concluded that somewhere between 11 million and 29 million people have neurocysticercosis in Latin America alone.”

Get over to Discover and read the whole article right now. It’s a totally treatable disease, though of course it’d be much easier not to accidentally become infected with parasites if you weren’t eating the animals that carry them. I really wanted to say this to my dining companions last night, who were eating copious amounts of pig, but not being a complete jerk, I refrained. Still, once you see that brain, it’s hard not to see it every time someone mentions the word “bacon.”

[photo by Theodore E. Nash, M.D., via Discover]


The UK “loves” pork?  »

UK pals, please tell me, WTF is this? I mean, I know what it is but are they serious?

This is a new campaign, at least to me, encouraging people to take a stand for quality pork? The Assured Food Standards gives their stamp of approval to various food providers that meet their standards. From their About Us:

Assuring food safety through every part of the supply chain is a vital priority for the food industry and for its many millions of consumers. Couple this with the demand for traceability of food; a concern for minimised pesticide residues; and in livestock production, increasing consumer awareness of animal welfare issues; the need for meaningful farm assurance is self-evident.

Now, honestly, I am not an abolitionist vegan; I think any improvement to quality of life for farm animals is good. I think the simple acknowledgment that animals deserve ANY quality of life by the government and general public is significant. It lays the foundation for the eventual realization that animals are totally sentient and deserve freedom and the best nature has to offer! OK, maybe that won’t happen, but it does set a precedence. If people agree farm animals deserve a certain quality of life, that means they believe that animals have rights. That’s a big deal. And if the rights of animals elevate to such and such today, tomorrow we can push that ceiling higher.

I think it’s good to give meat-eaters the option to buy meat that’s slightly less inhumane, and this seems better than the crazy double-speak of “cage-free” and whatnot. With that said! This campaign pains me. Does it have to be so fucking cutesy? Their mascot is a smiling pig. WTF.

I’ll tell you about “sausage’s best friend”: It’s the rest of its organs intact, living in a goddamn pig. I mean, “Stand by your ham”? Fuck you.

Here’s my suggestion for their next advertising campaign: Pictures of a real factory farm, with pigs falling off a conveyer belt and being stuffed into pens and beaten. And then be like, “Stand by your ham!” And then that would be the whole ad. Genius!

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